While folks might be talking about Kilian Jornet and Sage Canaday ahead of the 2014 The Rut 50k, Paul Hamilton is the defending champ and had another strong race in taking second to Sage at the Speedgoat 50k in July. In the following interview, Paul talks about what he thinks of his recent addition to The North Face team, whether that has changed his approach to training, and what runners can expect from the course tomorrow.
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Paul Hamilton Pre-2014 The Rut 50k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Paul Hamilton before the 2014 The Rut 50k. How’s it going, Paul?
Paul Hamilton: Great. Just pulled into Big Sky. Stoked to be here.
iRunFar: Nice long drive from Durango, but you did take a break in the middle.
Hamilton: Yes, split it up and went to Steamboat for a couple days on the way up here. The drive wasn’t too bad. I just turned on some audio books and cruised it.
iRunFar: Cruised. Nice, well aside from the drive, you had a pretty exciting week. You’re officially with The North Face now.
Hamilton: I am. Thank you. I’m really happy to announce that. It’s a dream come true. Really excited to see what potentials and opportunities come my way with them in races overseas. Yeah, I’m really excited to work with them and be part of the team with such amazing athletes and ambassadors for the sport.
iRunFar: It must really change your perspective. Last year you were up here at The Rut. You went to the Telluride Mountain Run. You sort of just drove around the inter-mountain West. Now it’s sort of the world becomes more of your… you can explore more. Is that exciting?
Hamilton: Terribly exciting. Absolutely. I haven’t been outside the U.S. There’s so much beautiful landscape and cultures to see out there. I couldn’t be happier.
iRunFar: Nice. You have been to Big Sky because you are the defending champion here at The Rut. Probably not so much pressure from that, but there’s one heck of a better field here this year. Are you excited?
Hamilton: Absolutely. The field is amazing this year—so many good athletes on the men’s and the women’s side. [Mike] Foote and [Mike] Wolfe have really done a good thing grabbing the Skyrunning Championship race here. It’s a beautiful landscape and I’m looking forward to the competition here tomorrow. It’s going to be good.
iRunFar: You are one of the top contenders, and of those, you’re the only one who has raced this course before. There have been some minor changes, but tell us a little bit about how this course plays out.
Hamilton: From what I remember, last year was wet. The moisture made it a cold, cold start. I actually went off course after the first couple miles, so I had to play catch up for the rest of the race, not the rest of the race, but for a good bit. Hoping to not do that this go around. I think knowing the course will play to my favor a little bit. I’m looking forward to the new addition—the face scramble they added—and another ridge traverse in addition to the Lone Peak summit which is pretty gnarly.
iRunFar: It’s even more technical than it was last year—technical, more climb, longer in fact.
Hamilton: Yeah, I love that aspect of mountain running—the more technical, the more steep it is, it plays to my skill set, I think.
iRunFar: Last time I saw you was Speedgoat at the end of July. You had a great race there, second. Sort of a bust-out performance on a big scale. The guy who beat you, Sage [Canaday], is back here on a course that favors you more than him. Are you excited to throw down against Sage again?
Hamilton: Absolutely. It’s so cool to be able to race against this caliber of athletes—Kilian Jornet, Rickey Gates, [Alex] Nichols, and…
iRunFar: Look at that crowd up there. There’s Adam Campbell walking by, Rickey Gates, Tom Owens, Kilian…
Hamilton: Yeah, it’s special, man. I’m really privileged and blessed to be able to compete with these guys. It’s a great experience.
iRunFar: About a month and a half ago or two months ago we were chatting and you had communicated sort of this really laid-back approach to training and you had this awesome race at Speedgoat. Opportunities presented themselves at the finish line immediately. Have you changed your approach to running or training since then or have you just stuck to heading out in the mountains?
Hamilton: My approach hasn’t changed. I don’t really have a ‘training plan’ per se. Everything is really kind of spontaneous and how I’m feeling that week. Maybe I’ll push a little bit more… really try to tag peaks when I can. Most recently I’ve gotten a single-speed mountain bike, so I’ve been implementing that into my training. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been great because I feel like it’s improved my power and my ability to charge uphill. It’s been good.
iRunFar: You’re going to be using that one gear up that Lone Peak climb?
iRunFar: Nice. Well, best of luck out there and congratulations, Paul, on joining The North Face and what awaits you.
Hamilton: Thanks, Bryon. Appreciate it. Hi, Mom! Hi, Dad, Brother, Sister, and other Brother!
iRunFar: Bonus question for you, Paul. One of the sponsors here this weekend is Big Dipper Ice Cream out of Missoula. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Hamilton: That is a great question.
iRunFar: Or do you love ice cream?
Hamilton: I do, yeah, anything that is rich and buttery is really good. Cookie dough is a favorite. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. There’s this amazing, local, artisan ice cream shop in Durango. It’s called the Cream Bean Berry. They’ve got an eclectic flavor profile they put out. I’m a sucker for their Marshmallow Sweet Potato. That’s a good one.
iRunFar: What’s the name of the ice cream shop again?
Hamilton: Cream Bean Berry.
iRunFar: Maybe you guys should follow Big Dipper’s lead and jump on the Paul Hamilton bandwagon and get this guy some ice cream. He’s got a lot of miles to run.
Hamilton: Yeah, the more the better.